Homemade Sunshine Burgers, Raw and Cooked

by Gena on June 6, 2010

Hey hey!

Loved the responses to my post on squeezing in gym workouts when you’re busy.  Great feedback, great tips!

So, week one of summer insanity is officially over, and another is about to start. Phew! It’s hectic, but so far, so good. It was a joy to come home a little earlier than expected on Friday, and have time to throw together a freshly made, nutrient-dense salad of the week:

That would be leftover quinoa, chopped raw veggies (celery, carrots, corn) and leftover roast beets over massaged kale, all topped with some avocado chunks. It felt so good to eat a meal that wasn’t sitting in tupperware!

This weekend also afforded me the first creative breakfast I’ve had in ages, in the form of a vegan overnight oat and banana soft serve parfait, a la Angela, topped with a few farmer’s market strawberries:

‘Twas delish! And I think it was almost as pretty as one of Ange’s creations :)

And since I was working like crazy this weekend, there was also lots of brainfood in the form of fresh juice:

Of course, it’s Sunday now, and as I gear up for another long week, portable and packable meals are at the forefront of my mind. There are plenty of packaged foods that get my seal of approval; you can find some of them in my recommendations section. One happens to be sunshine burgers, which are an incredibly tasty and allergen-free vegan burger. Made from rice and sunflower seeds, they’re rich in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, so they’re satiating and excellent for life on the go.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about making some sunshine burgers of my own. I love having the option of certain packaged items to pick out when I’m super busy, but I’m also my most happy when I can prepare foods from scratch, and whip up meals from raw materials; that’s what my blog is all about! So I made it my mission this weekend to re-create sunshine burgers, in the hopes that it could be as tasty and convenient as the commercial version.

Over the course of this mission, ambition got the best of me. As long as I was making a cooked replica, I figured, why not make a raw one, too? After all, my blog readers hail from many different perspectives; some, like me, are semi-raw or high-raw; some are just rawcurious; others are closer to all raw. I like to offer up a little bit of something for everyone. So I made it my mission to serve up homemade sunshine burgers, cooked and un-cooked.

Of course, the foundation of both recipes were sunflower seeds, which just so happened to be on sale at my health food store this week. Score! I began with two cups of sunflower seeds, finely in my food processor.

After that, I was ready to begin. It started with the cooked version:

Gena’s Homemade Sunshine Burgers (yields 5)

1 cup sunflower seeds, ground in a food processor or coffee/spice mill
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 tbsp ground flax seed
2/3 cup chopped carrot
2/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion (optional)
2 tbsp water
1 tsp Herbamare seasoning (or to taste)

Mix the sunflower seeds, brown rice, flax, water, salt, and Spike seasoning in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Process till relatively smooth (it’s cool if there’s still a bit of texture).

Add the chopped veggies and pulse till the burgers are well mixed, but not entirely without visible veggie pieces. At this point, test the texture. If it’s super thick and sticky, add another tbsp or two of water. If it’s moist enough, you’re done!

Shape into 5 patties, and put on a cooking tray sprayed with coconut oil. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes, flipping halfway through, till both sides are golden brown and the patties are firm.

Enjoy over a salad, on a sprouted grain bun or English muffin, or plain! I ate one of these on an Ezekiel bun fresh out of the oven, in true summer BBQ style.


And topped with a bit of my raw green goddess dressing:

Served up with the customary kale action, it was perfect! Not exactly the same as a commercial Sunshine burger, but quite similar, and delicious in its own right. I will definitely be making these again. Best part? They’re easy to freeze. In fact, in true planning mode, I put one patty aside for the week ahead, and froze the rest. I can’t say how long they’ll keep in the freezer, but I’d guess at least two months is fine.

I’ll be eating mine sooner ;-)

Next up came the RAW version. These were inspired directly from my cooked mix, but also heavily inspired by Ani Phyo’s sunshine burgers (which are fabulous, too!). They, like the cooked burgers, were a cinch to make, once the sunflower seeds were ready.

Homemade RAW Sunshine Burgers (yields 4)

1 cup ground sunflower seeds
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup chopped carrot
2/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup onion (optional)
1 tsp nama shoyu
1 tsp Herbamare seasoning (or to taste)

Mix sunflower seeds, flax, nama shoyu, and Herbamare in a food processor till smooth. Add chopped veggies and pulse till the burgers are well combined, but have some texture.

Shape into four patties and dehydrate at 115 degrees for 3-4 hours; flip, and dehydrate for another 3-4 hrs. If you like, you can cook these in a low-temp till crispy, too.

I knew these would be splendid, because I’ve made a variation on them before. And of course, they were. Case in point: this showstopping office lunch:

That’s raw sunshine burger, tucked into a romaine leaf and topped with agave-mustard dressing, served con salad. YUM.

You’ll notice that a key ingredient in both of these recipes was this stuff:

A.K.A., one of Gena’s favorite kitchen shortcuts. Herbamare is made solely of organically grown, ground vegetables and sea salt. It really makes life easy when you want to season food without chopping fresh herbs or rummaging through your pantry for dried ones, and it takes the mystery out of proportions, too. I can’t recommend it enough for seasoning in a pinch!!!

I believe it’s fine to freeze these, too; I hope so, because I’ve got three in my freezer, waiting to be used this week!

These burgers are not only delicious and versatile, but full of nutrition: sunflower seeds are excellent sources of vitamin E, a rich antioxidant, and thiamin (B1), which helps us convert blood sugar into energy. And we could all use more energy!

Today is going to be another long one. It’s also my birthday! :-) I’ve got to work late, so I don’t have any celebration plans to speak of. But I did take the time to celebrate over the weekend in the form of dinner and juice dates with dear friends, and last night, I celebrated with a vegan dinner at Josie’s and some blissfully lazy snuggling on my mother’s sofa. Which is my kinda celebration. 28 years — crazy!


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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

joy June 7, 2010 at 7:00 am

Happy birthday Gena! Have a great and thank you for a fabu recipe (gee it’s your birthday and we get the treat)


crunchy granola gal June 7, 2010 at 7:19 am

Happy birthday! Inventive recipe, but I’m an old SB fan- would rather stick to the packaged ones out of my own stubbornness and convenience. :)


Christie {Honoring Health} June 7, 2010 at 7:25 am

Happy birthday, Gena!


Johanna June 7, 2010 at 7:32 am

Hey, congratulations and happy birthday! Hope you’ll have a lovely monday! =D


VeggieGirl June 7, 2010 at 7:42 am



MarathonVal June 7, 2010 at 7:48 am

Happy birthday Gena! Have a fabulous day! :)


Jen June 7, 2010 at 7:52 am

I will definitely make those burgers – they look fabulous.

And a very happy birthday to you! Have a great time at Josie’s! :-D


Sarah @ cocoanutshakes June 7, 2010 at 8:03 am

Happy Birthday! Your vegan overnight oats look splendid. And those sunshine burgers are genius. I love how the agave mustard dressing looks like cheese, I did a SERIOUS double take.


Chocolate-Covered Katie June 7, 2010 at 8:10 am

Happy Birthday, dearest Gena :)

May your day be filled with chocolate (or something else as sweet as you)


Sophie @ yumventures June 7, 2010 at 8:12 am

Happy Birthday! :)


Jacques June 7, 2010 at 8:17 am

Happy birthday Gena! Thanks for the yummy sunshine burgers. It is sunny here (up north somewhere in Canada) and I will make some today for sure.


Little Bookworm June 7, 2010 at 8:36 am

Happy Birthday!


Lauren June 7, 2010 at 8:53 am

Okay, we are like food soul mates! Hello, HOMEMADE SUNSHINE BURGERS? You are my God! I will be making both, and picking up some Herbamare!

Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday to you, Dear Gena!!!! Have a wonderful one!! XOXOXOXOXO


Patti June 7, 2010 at 9:15 am

Happy Birthday Gena. Many more.


Jenna June 7, 2010 at 9:15 am

Happy birthday, Gena! Those burgers look great- I can’t wait to try them. Enjoy your day!


Annie D. from Annie'sSimpleLife June 7, 2010 at 9:23 am

OH my goodness! I’m making these asap!!! They look soo good!


Annie D. from Annie'sSimpleLife June 7, 2010 at 9:23 am



Bevin June 7, 2010 at 9:41 am

HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY GENA! Can’t wait to try and make those burgers for a decent-sized meal :)


Evan Thomas June 7, 2010 at 9:43 am

Happy birthday!


Christine (The Raw Project) June 7, 2010 at 9:46 am

Happy Birthday! I hope it’s a great day! Thanks for the burger recipes, can’t wait to try both!


Ronn June 7, 2010 at 10:14 am

Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

The SB recipes are great, but that agave mustard dressing also looks like something special! I searched your recipes but couldn’t find one for it … could you please tell us how to make it?

Thank you!


Gena June 7, 2010 at 10:14 am

Thanks Ronn!

Errr, it’s not very special. I just mixed agave and mustard!



Ronn June 7, 2010 at 11:24 am

Thank you Gena! Who would have ever imagined that agave mustard was . . . mustard with agave! LOL! Everyone but me, I guess! ha ha


Edith June 7, 2010 at 10:18 am

Happy Birthday!!!


Veronica (lifewithnature) June 7, 2010 at 10:33 am

First, let me wish you Happy Birthday!

I’m very pleased with this 2 versions of burgers. It’s been a while since I had a burger (couldn’t find one without non-organic soy at my grocery store). And guess what? I just found that my mini-oven have a rear fan, and that I can adjust the temperature to below 150F. This really makes me all excited to try dehydrator food in it!


Marisa June 7, 2010 at 10:38 am

Happy Birthday Gena!! The burgers look AMAZING! I will definitely be trying them. Have a great week. :)


Claire June 7, 2010 at 10:56 am

happy birthday lady! Both burgers look and sound delicious so I will have to try them out soon. They sound like both amy’s bistro burgers and sunshine burgers, my two faves!


Stephanie June 7, 2010 at 11:37 am

Happy Birthday! Best wishes for the year ahead… I’ve never commented before, but I’ve enjoyed your blog and all of your creative and insightful posts since (almost) the beginning. In fact, yours is one of the (very few) blogs I read with any consistency, as it is so well written. Thanks for this post too… can’t wait to try making these burgers!


seattlefarmette June 7, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Happy Birthday Gena!! Love your recipes :)


Kathleen June 7, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Happy Happy Birthday sweet, smart, sassy Gena!! Wow, all of this food porn looks amazing! I love, love, love Sunshine Burgers and will definitely be attempting your cooked version this summer. And heck, if one of these days I get around to splurging on a dehydrator, I’ll certainly attempt the raw ones. Speaking of Sunshine Burgers, have you tried the falafel flavored ones? Holy yum is all can I say. Throw some homemade hummus on it and you’re good to go. Have a wonderful birthday!


Mama Pea June 7, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Both the recipes look terrific! I’m a big fan of Ani’s burgers.

Hope you have a wonderful birthday, my friend!


Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg June 7, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Happy, happy birthday!!! I hope you have a lovely one!

Ahhh, sunshine burgers are my favorite– I tried to make some homemade ones, but they tasted nothing like the original! Yours look really close– I’ll have to give it a try!


Jenna June 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Happy Birthday Gena! I hope you have a wonderful day!

those sunshine burgers look unbelievable! yum.


lola June 7, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Those burgers look so delicious, i can’t wait to make one!!! And happy bday by the way Gena!! my best wishes for you!


Catherine June 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Happy birthday Gena, I hope the long day doesn’t wear you out too much and you’re still able to enjoy your special day. Thanks for the burger recipe! I just got Ani Phyo’s cookbook and made her raw burgers the other day (in my oven on warm because I am sans dehydrator) and I’d love to add another raw burger to my repertoire!


Diana (Soap & Chocolate) June 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Happy happy birthday my dear! In honor of Gena day, I just ate 1/2 an avocado on millet bread. And in honor of me, that bread was smeared with cream cheese. :) I’m obsessed with this combo. I need to figure out how to veganize it so you can experience the flavor combo – it’s awesome.

Nice work on these burgers – they look fab! Great for summer, and surely more delicious than average BBQ fare like Boca burgers or some nonsense like that.


Kat June 7, 2010 at 2:32 pm

love the burger recipes – I’m celiac, and always on the lookout for a good recipe… so many of the frozen ones & recipes have gluten in them, so I can’t wait to try yours :)


Sarah June 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Happy birthday!!! I’m four days older than you :)

Hope you have a wonderful time celebrating despite work busyness xxx


Christina June 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Happy Birthday, Gena! Hope it’s a great one :) :)


zestycook June 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Happy Birthday GH!



elizabeth June 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I think you share a birthday with my son (his is today, June 7 – your post is dated June 6, but I think “today” in your post is June 7, no?). Happy birthday either way. From one Gemini to another. I’ll be celebrating next Monday. With my nose to the grindstone as well.


JL June 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Happy birthday! I have wanted to make vegan burgers since grilling season began but no recipe “spoke to me.” I just whipped these burgers up (needed to add about 1/4 cup cooked quinoa because I didn’t quite have a cup of brown rice.) They are chilling in the fridge before hitting the grill tonight. They made perfect paddies. Can’t wait to taste ‘em!


Katherine June 7, 2010 at 6:40 pm

This is way better than anything store-bought! you’re awesome with making things!


Ilana June 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Happy Happy Happy birthday Gena!!!

I’ve been experimenting with homemade veg burgers but most kind of fail or fall apart – I’ll have to give yours a shot!


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) June 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Happy Birthday, Gena!!!!!!!! Sorry i am a day late, trying to show off my muscles LOL and pack has had me slammed. Ok, so you are still a young’in. Not even 30 and all this greatness you have accomplished. Keep on changing the world, one sunshine burger at a time! Which btw, look fab and i dont even “go for” that type of thing. I do make something called “raw vegan taco nut meat” that i’ve blogged about which you can turn into patties as desired but i mainly make it to impress beef-eating men or company LOL. I mean i like it too but i prefer that strawberry parfait of yours!

Ok i am moving back home to San Diego at 7am tomrrow. Not sure what rest of week or so commenting will be so if i am MIA, you know i am sending you good vibes and bday wishes :)

lotsa love!


Erin June 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Happy Belated Birthday! Both versions of the burger look awesome.


Melissa @ TryingToHeal June 7, 2010 at 7:30 pm

the burgers look wonderful! i totally want to try yours instead of buying them… since they cost a freak’n fortune!

and happy birthday beautiful!!!


pure2raw twins June 7, 2010 at 8:01 pm

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEAUTIFUL!!! I hope you had a wonderful day because you deserve it!!! Burgers looks awesome, I need to get around to making some of these soon :)

Sending lots of xoxo your way.


jenny (green food diaries) June 7, 2010 at 10:11 pm

gena!! happy birthday. hope you had a great one, you deserve it.

” I’m also my most happy when I can prepare foods from scratch, and whip up meals from raw materials ” – this is exactly how i feel, and i’m inspired by this blog most of all to whip up meals from raw materials.

i love that you keep a dinner plate in your office!


BroccoliHut June 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Ooh! Major Sunshine burger fan here! I fell in love after VeggieGirl recommended them:) Anyway this recipe will surely save me some $$.


Sheri (Green and Crunchy) June 7, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Those burgers have given me one mean pregnancy-craving. I must whip some up tomorrow! I love Ani’s burgers and these look just as scrumptious. Thank you for sharing the recipes!

Happy Birthday!!


Erin @ Living and Loving In L.A. June 8, 2010 at 12:53 am

So I saw your pudding, lept up from my laptop, and made a chocolate version of chia seed pudding of my own.

Thanks for the inspiration!

And just the other day, the boyfriend asked, “Can you make your own veggie burgers?” I’m obviously a very bad veggie girlfriend that I’ve never made my own. But now I will!

Thanks again!



Nachos June 8, 2010 at 2:28 am

Happy Birthday Gena!

The burgers and parfait look great. Really, really great…. *drool*


Casey June 8, 2010 at 3:19 am

Hope you get some more celebrations in again soon Gena – happy birthday!

Casey xxoo


Christie June 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

Happy belated Big bad Beautiful Birthday, Gena!


Earth Mother – In The Raw June 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Both versions sound fab to me. I’ll definitely be hanging onto and trying both of these recipes in the very near future. Tis backyard BBQ season after all, and it’s nice to have some healthy options to take along when invited by friends and family.

Happy Birthday, my fellow Gemini girl. May your year be filled with beauty, love, and laughter.



Lynzie June 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm

these look delish!!
also, HAPPY [belated] BIRTHDAY!!!


Vegyogini June 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Happy birthday one day late, Gena! Thank you for all you share with your readers!


Wendy (Healthy Girl) June 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Happy Belated Birthday!

The parfait looks completely yummy. Going to try making that a.s.a.p.!


Annie@stronghealthyfit June 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Wow, both of those recipes look fabulous! I would love to try making raw veggie burgers.


Melanie @ I Dream of Tahini June 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Sunshine burgers are a staple in my freezer – Yummy recipes, can’t wait to try them :)

Happy belated birthday :)


bitt June 8, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Happy Happy Birthday! To my fellow Gemini friend.

I love your breakfast. Strawberries make everything look so pretty.

I used to eat TONS of sunshine burgers. I would love to try the raw ones. Thank you for making both versions, I am sure it was a lot of work but you will please double the people!


Julia June 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Hey Gena!

Just popped these in the dehydrator! … I was wondering.. are they supposed to be chewy and sort of wet in the middle? Or dense like store bought sunshine burgers? The dough was yummy too though, I just HAD to try it ;]


Jenny June 8, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Gena – Amazing! I made both the raw and cooked burgers. My husband said the cooked burgers (he didn’t try the raw ones) were outstanding! This comes from a man who says almost everything is “fair”. We have decided not to buy frosen veggie burgers from CostCo and make these and freeze them. Thanks so much!


Brittany June 9, 2010 at 5:30 am

the cooked sunshine burger was a hit!! i sauteed the veggies and garlic first before combining with the seed/rice mixture and i also added some dried chive and rosemary. absolutely delicious! ovens may vary, but my burgers needed almost 45 minutes to achieve the right consistency. thank you so much for one of my new favorite recipes! can’t wait to try the raw version!


Edwina June 16, 2010 at 2:05 am

Thanks so much, finally a recipe for cooked AND raw sunshine burgers, such a gift, tried it right away. The coconut oil makes it smell like real meat or at least something yummy in my kid’s opinion.


Mandiee June 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm

You are a genius! Seriously. I have never had Sunshine burgers and I don’t think I ever will considering how good these are. As I write this, I’m actually eating one! They’re *that* good that I knew I had to write you right away. Maybe I’m a bit late to hop on the train, but I can assure you I won’t be getting off anytime soon. It’s amazing how just a few simple ingredients taste better than anything else. The only changes I made were to add a pinch of oregano and thyme because I didn’t have the seasoning that you use. Anyway, thank you again for such a great recipe.

Have a lovely day!


megan @ the oatmeal diaries May 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Ahhh Sunshine burgers are my favorite! Cannot wait to try this recipe once I am reunited with my food processor next month!!


karen July 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm


The sunshine burgers completely crumbled after baking (even though they taste great)!
I followed the recipe verbatim
Any suggestions?

Thanks for the recipe!


Tricia August 27, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I just made the RAW burgers for lunch… Substituted baby spinach leaves for the celery (that’s what I had) and used braggs amino acid instead of Nama shoyu, and a dash of Cajun seasoning for some spice + no-salt salt! I couldn’t stop licking my fingers after making the patties and I scraped the mixing bowl clean! So tasty! Its sitting in our dehydrator now just waiting to get devoured! Thanks for the recipe- I’ll def be making this again :)


Tricia August 29, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Ps. I’ve actually shortened the time the burgers spend in the dehydrator. When it’s in for too long, it tastes more like a falafel and less of a burger. So I keep it in the dehydrator at 80degrees for about 15 mins. The burgers get warm enough and crispy enough to resemble a real burger, but it still remains soft inside (and most if the flavor is retained!)

Karen, I followed the recipe proportions to the letter (except for a few substitutions) and then put the patties in the fridge before dehydrating them. I think putting them in the fridge helped them hold it’s shape so mine didn’t crumble!


Anonymous February 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

This recipe worked out GREAT! Thank you for putting this together! I love Sunshine burgers but we do not buy them often due to price and availability. Just had these for dinner. My seventeen month old put everything into the processor and was in charge of pulsing. The outside was crisp and the inside a little “under cooked”, but we were baking other things at the same time. Thank you, again!


Laila July 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

I made the Sunshine Burgers today minus the Herbamare seasoning and they were not bad- I used organic Pizza sauce as the topping(my ketchup)- I look forward to making the raw sunshine burgers – but Mucho Gracias for the vegan one- I will make them again


C. J. Koa April 27, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I thought id toss this into the mix. I followed directions but for some reason the ingredients didn’t bond together so well. so I got a little innovative and through in
two egg whites and just about a half a cup of oats, rolled em into medium sized balls
sat them on the backers sheet and pressed them into perfect burgers. They were
better than store bought. So on the next batch I got daring and added ground mixed
nuts and some raisins. next I’m going to add diced apples to the mix… Happy eating


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